Discerning God's will for anything is pretty difficult! Sure, we've prayed. We've novena'd. We've even pilgrimaged for that clear "yes" from God. "Is this the one?"
After St. Therese's novena--my husband and I were seeing roses everywhere--wallpaper, in someone's last name, in a woman's dress, on the altar in church--everywhere! Was this the Little Flower's way of shouting at us? Maybe. But perhaps, we're using prayer like a vending machine. If you simply put in a prayer into the slot, choose your request, and voila, your answer comes out of the bottom. Prayer doesn't work like that. This was a lesson for us to remember. Even if you do have that great faith that a saint will come through for you, it's just not how God works.
We've also been tuning into the scriptures. In seems that every Bible verse is telling us to either "store up treasures in heaven" or "ask and it will be given to you." As a couple who will be making a financial risk to make the retreat center happen, these verses are certainly consoling. Is Jesus speaking to us directly here?
Yes, there are times when we can be bowled away by an answered prayer, but that's not the norm. That's not how it ordinarily works. It takes lots of prayer. Lots of consistent prayer. And usually a lot of waiting.
Even if you've never had to open a retreat center, we know that this experience of trying to find God's will is something you can relate to. We've all prayed for spouse selection, jobs, moves, house purchases, pregnancies, and more.
I've seen recent books out on "Discerning God's Will." And I think maybe if I read this book, I will see clearly what God wants. All I have to do is order the book, read it, and that will bring me the answer I seek.
But I've been down this path before. I've read many books like that in the past when I've been looking for other answers to prayer. Is there really anything else I can do differently?
Well, yes. Actually, there is. And I'm not sure if these books on discerning God's will mention this, but one way that we can "hear" what Jesus is telling us is through the people he puts in our lives. Wisdom and advice from others. Jesus incarnate in others.
So last weekend we took a couple of friends up to the place that we think God has provided for us. We gave them the grand tour. Over pizza and beer, my husband and I listened to what they said.
Coincidences or answered prayer?
We find ourselves in a week of waiting. . . again. . . . We think this is the right place.
Please send a prayer our way!
Dear Jesus, please help us to see!
We weren't finished with the cute, little town of Tryon, NC. We walked through the downtown and enjoyed lunch outside, looked at some antique shops. We admired the statue of the famous Jazz singer, Nina Simone, who was from this town. We could see ourselves living here.
About 8 miles from downtown Tryon, we found another property. Just a short 8 miles. . . .up and around. It was at the top of a nearby mountain.
Although you can't tell from this map, this 100 acre lot sits at the top of Hogback Mountain. The yellow line here is the boarder of South Carolina. And at the start of the property is a place to park for the Palmetto Trail.
To get to the main houses of the property, you pass by a caretakers log cabin then drive for 1 mile.
So already, there were 3 recently built cabins there. There was also an orchard and small barn. The property was mostly wooded and the views---OH My--The VIEWS! The property description claimed you could see 3 States and many other mountains from the Carolinas from there.
I loved it! My husband was a little hesitant, but I persisted. The main house would work as not only where we'd live, but also be used as a main gathering space. The other house could be split into more living space, and we'd have to build a couple other cabins. It was quiet and simply breathtaking. With 100 acres, we thought we could find another level spot for fields and eventually build a lake. We thought with the location and potential land usage, this could really work.
We were so excited to share this place and see what others thought, so we invited a couple of our couple friends. We left our builder friend alone, after all, this was fairly new construction. It was probably fine. The seller was very eager to sell. He wanted out before Christmas! Bring any offer.
We met our friends in the town of Tryon for pizza lunch. They were driving together and followed us up the mountain to this potential retreat place.
It was a rainy October day, but we were still hoping that the fall foliage would be gorgeous. And on our way up the mountain, it was. On these steep, windy roads, you got steered right to the edge of some sweeping views of the mountains in all of their glory. Having been used to traveling to our mountain cabin in Brevard, the drive didn't bother us, however, when we arrived to the top of Hogback mountain to look at the houses, our friends seemed rather pale. One commented that if we had retreats here, she would never come!
Well we thought that once they saw the beautiful views from a safe distance on a screened in porch, they might feel differently. The problem was, once we reached a certain height up this mountain on this rainy day, we were literally in the clouds. You could see nothing but clouds.
We wondered if this was often the state of these houses in the clouds. If it was, then, you might as well not bother making the trip to the top of the mountain.
This would not be Heart Ridge.